Until its closure to automobile traffic in 2000, the Naheola Bridge was one of only two bridges in the world that accommodated both rail and auto traffic. The bridge also had a vertical lift span that was raised to allow barge traffic on the Tombigbee River to pass underneath.
Traffic lights were mounted at each end of the bridge to signal the auto traffic to stop or proceed. The lights were controlled by the drawbridge operator, who was stationed in the bridge house near the middle of the bridge. This was necessary because the bridge is only wide enough for one-way traffic, and motorists could not see from one end of it to the other because the half-mile long structure had a blind curve at one end. The lights were also necessary to warn motorists of the presence of a train or the possibility of the drawbridge being raised to allow barge traffic underneath.
In 2001, the Alabama State Highway Department began construction on a new bridge immediately south of the Naheola Bridge. This bridge was completed in 2004 which allowed traffic to once again travel the length of Hwy 114 without detours. Now when motorists cross the Tombigbee River at Naheola, they will have the luxury of two-way traffic with no delays. There will certainly be more than just passing glances, though, down at the old Naheola Bridge in remembrance of it’s once unique claim to fame.
This old bridge is located beside the new concrete bridge across the Tombigbee River near Pennington, AL (GPS Coordinates 32.237667,-88.015389)
Source: Choctaw County Genealogical Society.
Photographs courtesy of RuralSWAlabama.